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Book to Focus on Second Hand Businesses



As a laid-off photojournalist, Jenna Isaacson knows the benefits of buying second hand, both in terms of the environment and impact on her wallet.

Looking to drive home that message, the Washington, D.C, resident has packed up an RV and is traveling the country, documenting her stops at resale and secondhand stores along the way.

She plans to turn the journey into a book, “All Thrifty States: A Visual Journey through America’s Collective Closets." Isaacson said it is a documentary project designed to encourage the secondhand lifestyle that promotes saving natural resources, energy and money by purchasing used goods.

[How to Run Your Own Secondhand Store ]

Specifically, she is photographing items that stand out regionally, with a goal of showcasing how items can differ greatly in various regions of the country.

"There is a really important message behind this," Isaacson told BusinessNewsDaily.

Whether it's the piles of shoes she found in Las Vegas or vintage housewares in Florida, she hopes the project shows off the exciting treasures to be found in resale shops across the country and helps minimize the negative stigmas attached to secondhand shopping.

"I am hoping people will see thrift stores as not just a place to take old things, but as a place to shop, too," Isaacson said. "You can find stuff that you would use everyday."Goodwill Industries " href="http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/1009-social-entrepreneur-business.html">

Goodwill Industries , the nation's resale industry leader, is sponsoring Isaacson's cross-country journey.

"We felt this was a tremendous promotional opportunity to raise awareness of donated goods," Goodwill spokeswoman Lauren Lawson-Zilai said.

Isaacson departed Phoenix in a fuel-efficient RV on June 18, with Goodwill signage prominently displayed, and will be making stops in Chicago; Denver; Detroit; Los Angeles; Minneapolis; New Orleans; Omaha, Neb.; and Seattle and Spokane, Wash., among others.

Having a visual journalist like Isaacson tell the story through her words and lens is what really attracted Goodwill to the project, Lawson-Zilai said.

"Jenna is a really great writer and photographer," she said. "She is able to bring attention to this in a unique way."

Isaacson's love affair with secondhand shopping began as a child, when her grandfather would take her to resale stores and let her pick out an item.

The joy she got from that experience turned her into a secondhand shopper for life.

"That has always stuck with me," Isaacson said. "I decided to combine the three things I love:  photography, thrifting and traveling."

The trip has made for a fun fourth wedding anniversary for Isaacson and her husband, who joined her for part of the excursion. 

At a stop in Utah, they picked out gifts for each other: a leather belt with his name on it for her husband Ed, and a Route 66 wall decoration for Isaacson.

"It is so much fun to jump in a store and see what the collection is," she said.

In addition to finding quality items at huge savings, Isaacson wants to raise awareness of the positive impact shopping at secondhand stores can have on the environment and local communities.

Isaacson said Goodwill diverts more than 2 billion pounds of goods from the landfills each year and uses eight out of every 10 dollars from the sales of those goods to provide job training for people facing the challenges of finding employment.

The current leg of Isaacson's trip is scheduled to wrap up Aug. 4 back in Phoenix. She is hoping to travel throughout the Northeast this fall. Her journey can be followed on her blog on the All Thrifty States website.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.